Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Trendy Oscar time
I love The Oscars. The glamor and the dresses and the predictions and the parties and the way this town turns upside down for the night - all that interests me. But it seems like the longer I live here, the more aware I get of how much the movies don't really matter on Oscar night. I know I'm like the umpteen thousandth person to realize this, but, you know, still.
Lacy Eye Theater said the other day that Slumdog is the new Crash, and I think I know what he means. I thought Slumdog was fantastic, just like everybody else, but it certainly does seem to be the critical darling right now. Last night on The Daily Show lead actor Dev Patel was on, which wouldn't be weird except, when was the last time John Stewart interviewed an actor who wasn't already his best friend? In the same episode, Stewart implied that Benjamin Button isn't a very good film.
Which brings me to my point. It seems like right now Benjamin Button is the kid who can't get no love while Slumdog is the adopted child who can do no wrong. I liked, nay LOVED, both films, but I don't get this disparity.
I know there are some who genuinely disliked Benjamin Button, although a lot of them have reasons that baffle me. "It has no conflict," "It has no theme," "They didn't make use of the premise," "What's the big deal? He ages backwards, so what? I did that yesterday." "It's Forest Gump revisited."
The Forest Gump thing - okay, I get that. I liked Forest Gump too, but I guess to some there's only room for one grown up fairy tale in this town.
But the rest of the criticism I don't really get. There's tons of conflict all based around a solid central theme. If you just don't like it, okay. But I think a lot of people are claiming not to like it because not liking Benjamin Button is the new thing. It's the most Hollywood of the Oscar nominated films with the most effects and the big hot star and the high concept and probably the most steadycam shots and perfect color correction. Therefore, it must be a terrible film.
Meanwhile, look at Slumdog! It's about foreign people and has a lot of hand cam shots and nobody heard of it before therefore it is the best movie ever.
And Milk is about the gays, so you can't really hate on that one even though it has a big star and a Hollywood budget. And The Reader - has anyone actually seen The Reader? And Frost/Nixon, well we've kind of run out of jokes about Nixon and there's nothing in the trailer but two guys talking to each other so there's not much there to make fun of.
I just wonder sometimes how many members of the Academy actually watch each film before voting, and how many just look at what their buddies are voting for and go along with the crowd.